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No protesting hospitals: Bill 1 restrictions added to health facilities

Alberta’s government has made hospitals and health care facilities out of bounds for protesters.

Hospitals and health care facilities formally joined pipelines, refineries, railways, mines and telecommunications under the province’s Critical Infrastructure Defence Act. The act is also known colloquially as Bill 1.

“When exercising these opinions crosses the line into interfering with the ability of Albertans to access health care and the ability of our healthcare professionals to provide it, often in situations where every second counts, we must take action,” said Alberta’s Minister of Justice Kaycee Madu.

Penalties from trespassing, interfering, or damaging infrastructure identified under the act ranges from $1,000 to $10,000 for first offences. It goes up to $25,000 for subsequent offences. Imprisonment of up to six months could also apply for first and subsequent offences.

The date that the regulation will come into force has yet to be released.

Speaking to the press at today’s Covid-19 update, Premier Jason Kenney, Minister of Health Jason Copping and Minister Madu characterized the need to ensure safe operations of hospitals for Albertans as the reason for enacting the provisions under Bill 1.

“These people protesting at hospitals have harassed health care workers who are fighting the COVID 19 crisis on the front lines, and they’ve disrupted Albertans there who are going to hospitals to seek treatment or support loved ones,” said Premier Kenney.

Prior protests at the Foothills Health Centre

Calgary saw protests by anti-vaccine activists at the Foothills Health Centre on Sept. 14.

Premier Kenney said that police were empowered to potentially use the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act in a statement made on social media sites prior to that protest.

“Today’s protests must in no way obstruct the important operations of our hospitals, including the arrival and departure of emergency vehicles and workers,” he said.

Anti-vaccine activists had also gathered in downtown Calgary on previous weeks.

Calgary had 289 patients in hospital including 90 in ICU as of Monday. Across the province there were 1,100 in hospital and 263 in intensive care.